Lost River starts in the York Mountains on the Seward Peninsula and flows south for 10 miles (16 km) to the Bering Sea, about 31 miles (50 km) southeast of Wales and 21 miles (34 km) west-northwest of Brevig Mission, Alaska. The river has two tributaries, Tin Creek and Cassiterite Creek. In 1898, a party of gold prospectors was returning from Kotzebue Sound on a schooner when they shipwrecked a few miles east of the mouth of Lost River. They built a cabin from the wreckage and spent the winter. These prospectors probably first applied the name Lost River to this stream.
In 1899, the survivors organized a mining district that included the Lost River; however, no discoveries of gold were made and the region was abandoned. In the winter of 1902, prospectors again turned their attention to this region in the search for tin ore. In 1903, Charles Randt, Leslie Crim, and W.J. O’Brien found tin-bearing minerals in float or in panning concentrate from the Lost River. Assisted by Arthur J. Collier and Frank L. Hess of the U.S. Geological Survey, they traced the tin to its source in a rhyolite dike on the banks of Cassiterite Creek. This dike is now known as the ‘Cassiterite dike’ or the ‘Cassiterite lode’, and it is the source of nearly all lode-tin production from the Seward Peninsula.
Since 1904, various mining interests intermittently developed the prospects in the area, and lode ore production totaled about 315 tons of tin-tungsten-fluorite by the 1950’s. In 1983, the Lost River Alaska Corporation did some trenching, sampling, and mapping on the property. They built a support camp and a runway at the mouth of Lost River that was 3,650 by 100 feet (1,113 by 30 m). More than 400 tons of tin was produced from the lode sources and inferred reserves were estimated at 38 million tons of ore based on 45,000 feet (13,720 m) of exploratory drilling. But plans for a townsite and a large mining operation never materialized due to financial problems, complexities of ore treatment, and lack of a market and transportation. Read more here and here. Explore more of Lost River here: